Part 1 of 3I decided to try something every American teacher does and no teacher in my Jordanian school ever had, or so it seemed at least from the reaction of my students. I decided to assign seats, but in a precisely calculated way. I listed out all the girls in my eighth grade class, in order from the strongest student, a saucy know-it-all named Wafa’ with a strut like the Bantam roosters I had grown up next door to, down to the weakest, a petite girl named Eslam.
Women in the village wore these as “work clothes,” doing yardwork or hanging laundry. They often kept a hijab amira near the door, in case they had to run out for something, but most women had a slicker, more sophisticated look for going to work or school, a long scarf of polyester weave with flowers or paisleys, maybe some metallic glitter. Eslam’s monochromatic hijab amira, dotted with the fuzz of repeated washing, was a sign of poverty greater than that of her classmates. Her total consistency in wearing it, though, hinted at a devotion to her faith that was stronger than the commitment of her classmates.